Southern California

Los Angeles Dodgers Closer Kenley Jansen Will Meet One Lucky Los Angeles Resident

In partnership with social media network Nextdoor, Los Angeles Dodgers closer, Kenley Jansen, will meet with one lucky Los Angeles resident.

Like a good neighbor, Kenley Jansen is there.

I know, I know, that's not how the jingle goes, but for one lucky Los Angeles resident, that's exactly how it goes.

In partnership with social network site, Nextdoor, Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is going to meet one lucky Angelo and present them with a check for $1,000 (a la Ed McMahon). 

The contest is presented by Nextdoor, a private social network that is used by thousands of L.A. residents in order to help them stay in the know about what's going on in their local neighborhood.

Whether it's an upcoming garage sale, a slew of break-ins, or simply a last minute babysitter, Nextdoor will help you connect with your neighbors.  

Nextdoor has chosen four finalists that are doing amazing things in their communities and exemplify the mantra, "love thy neighbor."

Voting begins on Thursday, September 7, and Los Angeles can vote for their favorite neighbor here. 

Here are the finalists:

George Contreras, The Neighborhood Coach

Based in East LA, George Contreras identified a need for a safe place for kids to play basketball. He knew that there were many city teams that gave youth a structured environment to play basketball, but some kids could not afford to be part of these teams or did not meet the required skill level.

That's when George decided to start his own volunteer basketball program, East LA Basketball Club, where he could help train youth so that they could eventually join the city teams. He spread the word to friends and family and started out with 15 kids. That soon grew to nearly 180 kids who have participated in his program over the past year and a half alone. George and a few volunteers spend three days a week in a gym with roughly 50 kids coaching them in basketball - but also in life.

George knows that the time he spends with these kids is an opportunity to teach them important life lessons such as the power of education, the importance of exercise, and the value of being a kind person. Since starting the program, George has seen dozens of his kids make the city teams and be invited by local private schools to play with their teams. 

If George wins the Neighborhood All-Star honor, he will use the $1000 prize from Nextdoor to benefit his team. Many of the kids cannot afford to buy proper basketball attire or equipment, so he would use part of the money to purchase these items for his team. He would use the rest of the money towards keeping the gym doors open so that he can continue to offer this program to more kids in the future. 

Fred Sornoso, the Neighborhood Do-Gooder

In 2016, Fred attended a church service where he was challenged to list the neighbors who lived around him. After realizing he knew none of his neighbors, Fred, who describes himself as an introvert, stepped out of his comfort zone and decided to make a big effort to meet his neighbors.

He started by reaching out to the local PD for help. They suggested starting a neighborhood block watch, so Fred reached out to his Monterey Park neighbors and invited them to his home to kick off a block watch. He has since hosted numerous block watch meetings at his home, and also expanded block watch to the nearby elementary school. Looking for another opportunity to unite his neighbors, Fred organized a neighborhood's first block party for the 4th of July.

Over 50 neighbors attended, and the event has now become an annual festivity for the neighborhood. In addition to taking ownership of these larger neighborhood initiatives, Fred also oversees the cleanliness and safety of his neighborhood and frequently reports items that need fixing. He can oftentimes be found delivering newspapers to neighbors' doors or taking in neighbors' trash cans from off the curb. 

If Fred wins the Neighborhood All-Star honor, he donate the $1000 from Nextdoor to the local elementary school in his neighborhood.

Eric Shepard, Neighborhood Connector

In 1989, Eric Shepard moved to Newport Beach and began working for the United States Postal Service, a job that quickly made him a staple of the Newport Terrace neighborhood where he delivers mail each day.

For 20 years, Eric has graced the neighborhood with a friendly smile, a helpful hand, and a watchful eye that gives the neighbors piece of mind. Eric always keeps an eye out for any suspicious activity in the neighborhood, checking on homes and cars for neighbors who are at work during the day or out of town. He also has a keen sense of the happenings of the neighborhood since he walks the same route every day, and is the first to know if there is an issue that several neighborsare facing, which he then elevates to the HOA.

Eric also has many businesses on his route, and is often able to connect residents to these businesses if their service matches a neighbor's need. After growing attached to the neighborhood and the residents, Eric chose to move to Newport Terrace, which has allowed him to become even more involved in the community and the HOA. Because Eric knows almost everyone - including what they might need help with or what talent they might be able to offer - he has opened the doors for neighbors (who might have never met) to help each other and get to know one another. 

If Eric wins the Neighborhood All-Star honor, he will use the $1000 prize from Nextdoor to help with HOA maintenance fees by extending his handyman services to more neighbors and bring his community together for a fun block party.

Barbara Gray - Neighborhood Philanthropist

Five years ago, Barbara Gray began experiencing back problems that required medical attention. After two back surgeries, she was told she'd need physical therapy, which her insurance luckily covered. But while in physical therapy, Barbara began to wonder about the hundreds of people who were injured and couldn't afford physical therapy.

From her own experience she knew that any individual with severe pain would not be able to work or provide for their families until they received care. She also knew that many recovering patients had equipment that they'd no longer needed that could be donated to people in need. That's when Barbara decided to launch Physical Therapy for All, a non-profit that collects physical therapy equipment and donates it to people in need.

The organization also fundraises to pay for physical therapy sessions for those who cannot afford it. In 2012, Barbara started collecting equipment from recovered patients and senior centers, and was soon forced to rent out a storage facility to hold all the donations.

Now, she works with community health clinics and social workers across Southern California to place donated equipment with patients in need. Her volunteer organization has collected and donated over 1500 pieces of durable medical equipment including: 500+ walkers & rollators, 300+ pairs of crutches, 200+ wheelchairs and over 65 hospital beds. Barbara has also partnered with several physical therapists who have agreed to substantially lower their rates to $500 per patient for up to 10 sessions, which Physical Therapy for All pays. In addition to SoCal, Physical Therapy for All has helped send equipment to Haiti and Mexico. 

If Barbara wins the Neighborhood All-Star honor, she will use the $1000 prize from Nextdoor to to pay for physical therapy sessions for patients in need, or towards securing additional physical therapy equipment.

One of these lucky people will get to meet Kenley Jansen, so make sure you go and vote for your favorite neighbor today. 

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